This year, President Barack Obama and SecDef Robert Gates have pledged to reform and cutback the defense industry's influence over the federal budget and the halls of the Pentagon.
Maybe mega-contractor SAIC didn't get the memo?
Science Applications International Corps yesterday announced it was moving its headquarters from San Diego to Tyson's Corner, Va., a Washington, DC, suburb where many defense and intelligence industry giants have set up shop.
SAIC is involved in everything from UAVs to MRAPs, intel analysis, even the BRAC base realignment. Already the company lists as "the area's fourth-largest private employer", with 17,000 jobs in the nation's capital, according to the Washington Post today.
This is a good example of the uphill battle the Obama administration faces in trying to tackle the lobbying industry. Tyson's Corner is one of the wealthiest areas of Washington, and its surrounding areas continue to undergo a massive expansion of businesses like SAIC, plus new homes, new roads and neverending plans for metro rail extension.
Obama and Gates are battling more than the spectre of "special interests". They're facing a whole lot of money, families, and public investment. In exchange for bringing high-tech jobs, Democratic Virigina Gov. Tim Kaine already promised SAIC more than $7 million in tax incentives and public funds for roads and infrastructure.
Here's an excpert of a piece from April, after Gates announced his intention to cut back on private contrators:
The Washington Post reported that roughly 7.5 percent of metropolitan Washingtons labor force about 291,000 jobs is tied to Pentagon contracting. Among those jobs are more than 2,000 contractors the Pentagon funds to oversee other contractors.
Ninety-five percent of the revenue of CACI, a military and intelligence services firm, comes from federal contracts supporting approximately 6,000 local employees, the post reported.
A recent Northrop-Grumman promo video brags the companys Technical Services division is so ubiquitous that it is involved in 65 cents of every defense dollar spent.
In March, at his primetime press conference, Obama said: Now, I think everybody in this town knows that the politics of changing procurement is tough, because, you know, lobbyists are very active in this area. You know, contractors are very good at dispersing the jobs and plants in the Defense Department widely, he said. And so what we have to do is to go through this process very carefully, be more disciplined than we've been in the last several years.
We'll keep an eye on how that's going.